Duty to Disclose – What Is Your Real Estate Agent NOT Telling You?!
The Latin term “caveat emptor” means “buyer beware”, and that used to be the case in real estate transactions. But after legislative actions and court cases involving environmental hazards, property condition issues and other disputes, that is no longer the case in California real estate.
Property sellers, and real estate agents, have a duty to disclose known facts about the home or property involved in the transaction. In California the 1984 case of Easton v. Strassburger has become the basis for agent disclosure. In addition to the disclosure principles set forth in the Easton case, all California licensed real estate agents/REALTORS® must comply with additional federal and state disclosure requirements relating to environmental hazards, agency representation issues, seismic and flood zone disclosures, sexual predator notifications, and other issues.
The implications of this case are clear. A broker and/or her real estate agent representing either the seller or the buyer has a duty to disclose to a buyer those facts that could have been known about a property if reasonable due diligence had been exercised. Any time a real estate professional observes anything which would raise a red flag regarding a property, further investigation should not only be recommended to the buyer, but also encouraged.
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